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HoundBaskervilles-1959-UA-halfBWhen Hammer Films was to make this version of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel, they called on their two biggest stars of the time. Peter Cushing took the role of Sherlock Holmes, while Christopher Lee was Sir Henry Baskerville. Andre Morell was Dr. Watson. The production was the first time fans would see Holmes in color. Cushing received mixed reviews at the time and Morell was seen to portray Watson as closer to Doyle’s ideal than other sometimes more comic versions. And Lestrade made no appearance in this version.

The film is said by some to be the best Holmes movie ever made(Rotten Tomato gives it a 100% rating), though it was only loosely based on the novel.

Things not in the novel were Sir Henry’s heart condition, no ritual sacrifice, no tarantula, nor was Holmes thought to be caught in a cave-in. Stapleton’s daughter was actually 220px-The_Hound_of_the_Baskervilles_1959_posterhis wife in the novel, though pretending to be his sister. She didn’t hate Sir Henry in the novel, did not drown in the bogs. Stapleton wasn’t mauled to death by the hound in the novel, but disappeared into the moors, presumed drowning in one of the bogs. The hound din’t wear a devilish mask in the novel, but was made to appear demonic with luminescent paint.

Peter Cushing went on nine years later to play Holmes in a BBC series of sixteen episodes, including a two-part Hound reprise. Cushing was a Holmes aficionado and brought his knowledge to all productions.

All in all, I rather enjoyed this version, never having seen it before.

For more overlooked films, check out Todd Mason every Tuesday.

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